In the time of Christ, foot-washing existed as a standard practice. Guests of a home could expect to have their feet washed by the lowliest of servants. (This is why the act performed by Jesus was so shocking, John 13:5-20.) Fortunately, this service is no longer a cultural practice (!) But when we receive guests at God’s house on Sundays, we do want to serve them. We can extend Christian hospitality and make them feel welcome. I’d like to suggest three simple acts that you can do to “show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2).
Change Your Thinking.
As a member of the family of God, you are always a host; every visitor is always a guest of God. It may help to imagine how you might treat an important guest in your own home—someone you deeply respect or sincerely love. That is how God treats us; that is how we must view the guests of God’s house. Hospitality in the church will come naturally when we embrace the value God has ascribed upon the visitor.
Approach a Guest.
Here’s where it gets tricky for some of us. We are introverts and late-comers. We will need to push through discomfort and awkwardness. Say a prayer, trust God, and walk up to a guest. If it helps, do this with a friend or your spouse. If you have an idea of what you will say, that may help calm the nerves (see below). It’s also worth remembering that it takes a good deal of courage for some to come to visit your church.
Ask a Question.
Ask open-ended questions. (Not, “How are you doing today?” They will inevitably tell you “good,” even if their car is on fire in the parking lot.) Open-ended questions invite a longer answer—they get people talking—more “essay” than “true/false.”
- “How long have you been in the area?”
- “How did you hear about our church?”
- “What do you do for a living?”
When you share your own answers to these questions, you allow the guest to get to know you too. You help him/her feel more comfortable, welcomed, and valued. The church family is one filled with love. God is at work in our midst. It is important for us to show this love to His guests. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)
With the affection of Christ, Pastor Michael